Jamil Naqsh’s Exhibition

Jamil Naqsh’s exhibition of drawings and water colours, at the Indus Gallery, is the first of its kind in Pakistan. It could also be seen in the nature of a celebration of Ali Imam’s successful recovery from a heart operation, and his return to Karachi. It is befitting to the occasion that Jamil Naqsh is exhibiting those works in which he has opened up new vistas of creative candour. And, what he has drawn for his own pleasure alone has been made public.

The drawings, in my opinion works of superior quality, are the artist’s improvisation upon the theme of Adam and Eve. The human image is as dominating as in his oil paintings. At the same time we also perceive that these works are, grammatically and idiomatically, very complex. The aesthetic form of Adam and Eve which emerges from their images, is musical in complexity. We notice the melodic propensities of lines being absorbed within paragraphs of choral phrasing. The themes celebrated in these works are premordial life, love, death in choreographic movements.






We also see in the drawings an analytical approach, typical of the syntax and language of that aspect of modern art which is associated with Cubism. But what makes Jamil Naqsh’s accomplished handling of this approach and speech interesting, is the painter’s commitment to the mode of enquiry he has chosen to resolve very personal and pressing questions. When we see the rendition of human figures in certain classical poses, derived from the sub¬≠continental folk and mythological traditions, we become aware not only of differences in cultures, but also of their appositeness. To say this is to recognize that in a number of drawings Jamil Naqsh has achieved a cultural and aesthetic synthesis of remarkable poise without, at the same time glossing over the inherent tensions such togetherness reflects.

While the drawings are stimulating intellectually, apart from their aesthetic provenance and results, the water colours are fine examples of perceptive and sensitive handling of this medium. Jamil Naqsh’s basic image, once again, is the same as seen in his oil paintings. But the textural density and richness of the latter is replaced here with the inherent charm of the water colour. We cannot miss in these works necromancy of water when colour becomes its own medium. Of course the purity of the Chinese masters is not to be looked for; nor should we think of the tempera technique of the sub-continental master miniaturists. What Jamil Naqsh achieves is an aesthetic variety of tones arranged between paper, water and pigment. And against this background of chromatic music can be seen the female nudes, their limbs invested with sensuous resonance. Not satisfied with the poetry of the flesh, the same nudes are also rendered as vestal virgins of marmoreal purity. In fact, anyone interested in hearing the melody of lines should apply his ears to these water colours of Jamil Naqsh.

Significant painters change their methods and medium from time to time, if not their preferred theme. This ensures development of both their minds and art. It is a pleasure to see that Jamil Naqsh handles water colour with the same panache as he does his oils and that his pencil, besides being an instrument of his art, has also acquired the speech of intelligence.

Dr. Akbar Naqvi 1979